Via – Fox News
Trump administration officials and U.S. lawmakers turned up pressure on Iraq’s government to keep American personnel in the country safe, after a stunning assault on the embassy in Baghdad renewed concerns about the influence of Iran.
Dozens of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters breached the compound Tuesday, smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area as protests raged over U.S. airstrikes over the weekend that killed members of the Iran-backed militia. President Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating” the attack, while defending the airstrikes as in response to an attack that killed an American contractor.
A U.S. defense official told Fox News that 100 Marines are being sent to the embassy to bolster security. A U.S. Apache helicopter gunship also flew over the embassy and dropped flares in a “show of force,” attempting to disperse the crowd. Defense Secretary Mark Esper later confirmed additional forces are being sent.
The storming of the compound represented a grave new challenge to the Iraq-U.S. relationship, as Iran competes for influence. Iraq has long sought to balance ties with both countries, but reports from the scene indicated Iraqi security forces did not initially stop protesters as they marched to the heavily fortified Green Zone following a funeral held for those killed in the U.S. airstrikes.
A U.S. official later told Fox News that “Iraqi security forces did participate” in protecting the embassy — and Trump made clear he expects Iraq to protect U.S. personnel.
“[W]e expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” Trump said in his tweet blaming Iran.